Outreach Virginia Center for Digital History Outreach offers project-specific training workshops for K-12 and university educators to integrate digitized primary resources in the classroom. Staff development workshops focus on both the content of the historical websites as well as the teaching methodology to provide examples and guidance in developing classroom activities, lessons, and assessments. Workshop topics can focus on a variety of related topics, including the use of technology as a transformational tool in the classroom, grade and topic-specific content, and strategies to create a hands-on culture in a history classroom.

Schools, organizations, and educators can schedule professional development opportunities by contacting Andy Mink.

Outreach Mission

Instead of simply changing the way we present and store information, technology has fundamentally changed the landscape of teaching in two critical ways: accessibility and authorship. Databases create online warehouses for a seemingly limitless quantity of primary sources on key historical topics; the Internet gives users all over the world access to these documents with a click of the mouse. Educators are now able to access these documents, integrate them into daily classroom instruction, and give their students the opportunity to learn material by exploring, uncovering, and drawing conclusions from primary sources. In particular, history students can immerse themselves in the same academic approach that a university scholar uses to research and publish historical content: by identifying a historical problem, discovering primary sources of that event, and drawing conclusions based on that evidence. In addition to learning the material, students develop skills necessary to function as independent learners, of analyzing and synthesizing primary data, and for presenting their findings. Students are able to combine their real world exploration with access to the data, evidence, and documents that help them interpret and draw conclusions of these experiences.  When students are given the opportunity to explore primary sources, the class itself transforms to a highly collaborative, problem-based classroom in which the individual student contribute to the direction, the pace, and the outcome of their study. Technology creates more opportunities for teachers and students to access information, but with that access comes the responsibility of redefining the classroom to emphasize, reward, and expect a different type of learning. Technology can also serve as a tool for authorship that allows students to create documentary-style narratives that combines text, visuals, and audio to create a much richer assessment of their understanding of the past.  By becoming historians, students are more engaged in the material, participate a more interactive learning environment in the class, and ultimately master the content more effectively.

History And Highlights

Since 2003, VCDH Outreach projects have attempted to provide schools and educators with professional development opportunities that introduce both the content and methodology of integrating digital history archives in K-12 classrooms. With funding from a three-year Teaching American History grant, VCDH worked closely with history teachers in sixteen counties of the Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium. Additionally, workshops have been offered through pre-service and teacher training programs at Western Illinois University, Alaska Pacific University, the Curry School of Education at UVA, North Carolina State University, Earlham College, and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro as well as with public school faculities in schools in Florida, Delaware, and Illinois. VCDH Outreach workshops have been featured at many national conferences, including the Annual Association of Curriculum and Design, Museums on the Web International Conference, the Coalition for Essential Schools Fall Forum, and the National Middle School Association. In June 2005, resources and teaching stragegies from VCDH's "Television News of the Civil Rights Era" digital archive were featured at the Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner Living Memorial Civil Rights Education Summit in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

In September 2005, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Floyd County, and Salem City Public Schools and Virginia Tech in partnership with VCDH received a $1M Teaching American History grant. A critical component of Perspectives, Identity, Legacy: Democracy in American History Education will be a summer immersion experience in which teachers will work closely with professional historians to understand the content and context of the "Television News" digital project. Then with on-going support, teachers will create a short digital historical narrative that will inform the Roanoke community on the legacy and history of the Civil Rights Movement in rural Virginia. Media releases on this project include the following:

A second Teaching American History grant was received in June 2006 in collaboration with Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Greene County, Madison County, and Orange County Public Schools. "The Virginia Experiment": Growing Seeds of Democracy in Four Hundred Years of American History will provide intensive, on-going professional development that focuses on connecting scholarship, historic sites and museums, and inquiry-based fieldwork to understand and teach history more effectively. Year One will leverage the Virtual Jamestown project with an emphasis on the 400 year commemeration of the Jamestown Colony, or "The Virginia Experiment". Partners in this project include the Center for Liberal Arts, Center for Technology and Teacher Education, and Miller Center at UVA; the Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indiana; non-profit community organizations including the Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Virginia Council on Indians, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the Virginia Historical Society; and museums and libraries including the Danville Museum of History, Eastern Shore of Virginia Public Library, Library of Congress, and Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. Media releases on this project include the following:

Teaching Materials

Lesson Plans for K-12 Social Studies Classes

Lesson Plans for K-12 Social Studies Classes (Virginia SOL and National History Standards Linked) These lesson plans draw on material from the Valley of the Shadow: Two American Communities in the Civil War and Virtual Jamestown and are designed to help teachers implement the new Virginia Standards of Learning and the National History Standards. They were developed in partnership with the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education. Digital History in the Classroom: allows students to explore the raw materials of our past.